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Home > Dogs > How To Keep Your Dog Safe from Dog Theft: 3 Steps to Prevent Dognapping

How To Keep Your Dog Safe from Dog Theft: 3 Steps to Prevent Dognapping

dog theft

There are plenty of things to worry about when it comes to our dogs. Will they eat something they shouldn’t when we aren’t looking? Will they get ill? Will they get lost at some point? One thing you may not have considered to be a concern—but should—is will they be stolen?

Dognapping has been on the rise the past few years, and the pandemic has only increased the number of dogs being stolen. In fact, it’s estimated that approximately two million dogs are taken each year. Because dognapping is becoming more prevalent, it’s vital that you take steps to protect your pet.

Luckily, you can take many steps that can help keep your dog safe from dog theft. Most are relatively simple, and all increase the chances of your pup staying where it belongs.

divider-pawWhy Dogs Are Stolen

There are a handful of reasons people steal dogs, but most of them boil down to money. Purebreds can be stolen then sold to breeders, pet stores, or puppy mills for an easy profit. Dogs may be taken from their owners, then sold to other unsuspecting people who simply want a pet, known as “pet flipping.” Sometimes, people even dognap with the intention of returning the dog if a cash reward is offered. Even worse, some pups are stolen to be sold into illegal dog fighting rings or sold to companies for medical research.

No matter the reason, your beloved pet being stolen is devastating for both you and your dog.

Which Dog Breeds Are Stolen Most

As you can probably guess, some dog breeds are stolen more often than others, with many of them being purebreds. The most commonly taken dog breeds include:

If you have a pup amongst these breeds, you’ll want to keep an even closer eye on them.

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The 3 Steps to Help Keep Your Dog Safe from Dog Theft

Now that you know why dogs are stolen and which are most often taken, you need to know the steps that will help keep your dog safe from dog theft.

1. Proof Of Ownership

signing papers and documents
Image by: smolaw, Shutterstock

First, make sure you have plenty of documentation that proves that you own your dog. A few of the things that will show ownership include:

  • Adoption papers
  • Vet records
  • Photos of you and your dog

2. Identification

Dogs with nametag
Image by: Jessica_Death, Shutterstock

Next up is making sure your dog can be identified if lost or stolen. To that end, you should do the following:

  • Be sure your dog is always wearing a collar and tag with your name and number on it. Do not include your pet’s name on the collar, though. If thieves find your dog’s name on the collar, they could have an easier time luring them in.
  • If your dog is neutered, you may want to add that to their tag as well. Neutered dogs have a lesser risk of being stolen as they can’t be sold to breeders or puppy mills since they can’t breed.
  • Get a microchip! Collars and tags can be removed in a second; microchips cannot be removed. Plus, not only can microchips identify your dog, but they’re also another form of proof of ownership. Even better is the fact that dogs with microchips are reunited with their owners more often than dogs without them.

Safety At Home

Your pet can be just as easily snatched from your home as from the streets but keeping them better protected only takes a few simple steps.

  • Don’t leave your dog outdoors alone. Unfortunately, fences aren’t a deterrent to a determined thief, so even if your pet is in a fenced backyard, there’s still a chance they could be dognapped. If you’re home, make sure you or someone else in the house is keeping an eye on the dog. If you’re leaving home for the day, keep your pet inside and not out.
  • When your pup is in a fenced-in yard, ensure the gate is always locked to make things more difficult for would-be thieves.
  • Don’t post signs around your house that say things like “Warning – German Shepherds”. That could encourage a thief rather than dissuade them, particularly if you own one of the more commonly stolen dog breeds.

3. Safety Out and About

shiba inu dog walking with his owner
Image by: ikate25, Shutterstock

Whether you’re walking your dog or taking them with you on an errand, you’ll need to be very mindful of your surroundings.

  • Don’t walk your dog on the same route every day. Much like when someone is stalking a person, dognappers may watch you and your dog to figure out your routines. If you and your pup walk the same way every day, it will be much easier for a thief to take your dog from you.
  • Walk with a friend when possible. Would-be thieves usually want to steal a dog in the simplest way possible. If more people are around, there’s more risk to the thieves, which decreases your pup’s risk of being stolen.
  • Be wary of strangers. It’s nice when someone stops to compliment our pets when we’re out and about but take note as to whether someone seems more interested than is customary in this situation. Don’t give out a lot of information about your dog to strangers you meet.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. As tempting as it is to walk and talk on your phone at the same time, it could be a large enough distraction that you don’t notice a car slowing down beside you or someone running up to you.
  • Keep your pet on their leash! Not only is being off-leash a good way for your pet to get lost, but it’s much simpler to steal a pet who’s running a few feet ahead of its owner.
  • Never, ever leave your dog alone in the car. Not only is this dangerous because of how the temperature could affect them, but a thief will have no compunction about breaking a window to grab your pet.

What You Should Do If You Think Your Pet Has Been Dognapped

If you believe your pet has been stolen, you need to act quickly so you have the best chance of recovering them.

  • Call the police to let them know of the theft. Make sure they list the animal as “stolen” rather than “lost”.
  • If your dog is microchipped, report the theft to whichever microchip database you use. This way, if your pet’s microchip is scanned at any point or if someone tries re-registering the microchip, you’ll know.
  • Use posters, your community, and social media. Putting up posters about your stolen dog and talking to people in your neighborhood to ask them whether they saw anything can be highly beneficial in finding your stolen pet. Using social media platforms to tell others about your animal can also help. The more people who know about your missing pet, the more people who are keeping an eye out for them in their day-to-day.
  • Contact local vets and shelters to let them know your dog was stolen and provide photos. This way, if your pet shows up, they will know to contact you.
  • List your dog on websites for missing animals.


It’s a horrible thing when a pet gets stolen, so, unfortunately, pet theft has been rising. Knowing the many ways you can keep your dog safe and knowing what to do if dognapping happens will go a long way in preventing a tragedy. Keeping a close eye on your pet and your surroundings no matter where you are, plus microchipping your dog, are amongst the best ways to prevent dognapping. And, if your dog is stolen, know that there are several places and people you can go to who can aid in retrieving them.

Featured Image Credit: cunaplus, Shutterstock

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